Côte d'Ivoire is one of the most culturally diverse countries in Africa. This is caused by the migration patterns from neighboring countries as well as the European immigration. Traditional arts continue to flourish everywhere in the country.

Ivorian people are typically spontaneous and open with a legendary sense of hospitality that is genuine. It is expressed in a proverb from the western region: Your visit is more than a son, more than a brother, more than a wife.

Following the 1999 coup, an amended constitution was adopted in July 2000. The President of the Republic is the Chief of State and is elected by popular vote for a period of five years. He can then be re-elected for a maximum of one further five-year term. The President appoints the Prime Minister.

The constitution guarantees the legal right to hold meetings and demonstrations. It also provides that both parents of the president be Ivorian.

Legislative power is held by the Assemblée Nationale, or National Assembly. The unicameral body has 225 members elected for five year terms. Typically, legislation is introduced by the President, but the National Assembly can introduce its own legislation as well.

The Ivorian People's Front (Front populaire ivoirien, or FPI) is the dominant party. The FPI currently holds 96 seats in the National Assembly, and is the party of the current President, Laurent Gbagbo.

Despite economic fluctuations and recent political instability, Côte d'Ivoire and its people have enjoyed relative prosperity compared to other French-speaking African countries. As a result, Ivorians appear to have a more ambitious and forward-looking perspective than some of their neighbors. Ivorians also share a sense of national identity as a result of their independence from France, although the influence of French culture continues to be important. The government also has maintained close economic and political ties with France.

The mainstays of the Ivorian national economy are cocoa and coffee - the country is the world's largest producer of cocoa and one of the largest producers of coffee. Other major agricultural exports include bananas, corn, cotton, pineapples, rubber, sugar, and sweet potatoes. Mining - copper, natural gas, iron - oil refining, and manufacturing are also important.

Falling commodity prices - cocoa in particular - followed by political uncertainty and civil war have seriously impacted the economy. It is hoped that international aid, much of which is tied to a peace deal between the government and rebel forces, will help revitalize one of West Africa's biggest economies.

GDP growth was just over four percent in 2009, and 3.6 percent in 2010.

Political crisis
At the height of the civil war in 2002, thousands of Muslims living in the north were killed. The country was split in two, with rebel forces controlling the northern part of the country. Even after the Linas-Marcoussi Agreement of January 2003, when the former rebels (known as the New Forces) entered the government, tensions remained high due to political instability.

Following the deaths of several French soldiers and retaliatory bombing raids of the government's air force, a crisis erupted in 2004. The French government evacuated its nationals due to demonstrations and violent incidents in Abidjan. Other foreign nationals also left the country.

A peace accord was signed in March of 2007, but shortly thereafter the UN was expressing deep concern over the lack of adherence to timelines set out in the accord.

As recently as spring of 2011, a political crisis resulted in food shortages and frozen bank accounts and another transfer of power loomed.

Once a model for African economic and social development, this prosperous country has slipped into a political conflict that divides its citizens and threatens its economic growth and stability. Two sides in an ongoing battle in Bawku (the Kusasis and the Mamprusis) signed a peace accord in May of 2010, but observers are subdued in their enthusiasm, given past peace accords that have dissolved into further conflict.


Official Name: Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
Capital City: Yamoussoukro
Type of Government: Republic
Official Languages: French
Area: 322,462,503 sq. mi.
Population: 21 million
Religion: Muslim 39%; Christian 32%; indigenous 12%; nearly 17% claimed none
Currency: CFA Franc - CFA Fr.
Number of Time Zones: 1
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT); Eastern Standard Time (EST) plus 5 hours
Weights and Measures: Metric system
Country Domain: .ci
Country Tel Code: 225